Browsing News Entries

Ohio House passes heartbeat abortion bill

Columbus, Ohio, Nov 15, 2018 / 06:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The Ohio House has once again passed a pro-life bill that would ban abortions after a baby’s heartbeat is detected.

“This bill basically says if there is a heartbeat you cannot abort. If there is a heartbeat, there is life…there is no debating that,” said Rep. Ron Hood, R-Ashville, according to Dayton Daily News.  

On Nov. 15, the heartbeat bill passed the House 58-35. The bill will now head to the Ohio Senate before the legislative session ends in December.  

If the bill becomes law, it would ban abortions at around six weeks, or once a baby’s heart beat is detected. It does not make an exception for incest or rape.

Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, pushed for an amendment which would mandate sex education in K-12 schools in Ohio. This amendment has been tabled.

The bill had originally passed in 2016, but was vetoed by Ohio Governor John Kasich (R). The recent vote in the House was two shy of the 60 votes it needs to override a potential veto.

Kasich has signed into law 18 abortion regulations or restrictions, including a 20-week ban; the heartbeat bill is the single one he has vetoed.

Pro-abortion groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice have opposed the bill. Catherine Ingram, D-Cincinnati, said the bill would bring back dangerous methods of abortion procedures.

In the past, the bill was supported by pro-life organizations such as the Susan B. Anthony List. However, Ohio Right to Life pushed back against the bill, noting that similar legislation in other states have been overturned by the courts.

Mike Gonidakis, president of Ohio Right to Life, said in 2016 that the U.S. Supreme Court has also refused to hear appeals to those cases.

“Legal scholars believe that asking the Court to entertain a third heartbeat law at this time would cause irreparable harm to the pro-life movement,” he said.

According to the Ohio Department of Health, abortions increased last year by 1 percent compared to the previous year. Out of the 20,893 abortions performed in 2017, the report stated, almost half of those were conducted after nine weeks of the pregnancy.

“Abortion is an assault on the family. Abortion is an assault on Ohio because it destroys the hearts and minds of women,” said state Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, according to Dayton Daily News.

Chilean cardinal called to testify on abuse case, leaves papal advisory committee

Santiago, Chile, Nov 15, 2018 / 05:29 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A close advisor of Pope Francis has left the “C9”, the pope’s body of cardinal advisors, as he faces charges of covering up for clerical sex abuse in his home country of Chile.

Cardinal Francisco Javier Errázuriz Ossa, Archbishop Emeritus of Santiago, told Radio Cooperativa that he has officially left the Council of Cardinals, and noted that it was not a resignation but the end of his term. He said he travelled to Rome to bid farewell to Pope Francis and to thank him.

The announcement came at the same time that a Chilean court said it is summoning the cardinal on charges that he protected Father Jorge Laplagne, accused of sexual abuse of minors.

Victims of sex abuse have also filed a complaint with the Chilean court against Errazuriz for “false testimony” in the case of former priest Fernando Karadima, who has been found guilty by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the sexual abuse of minors.

The cardinal is also accused of “misinforming” Pope Francis on the role that Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid, Bishop Emeritus of Osorno, played in covering up the abuse of Karadima. Barros has also been accused of covering up of the abuse of minors committed by Fr. Pedro Quiroz.

For a time, Pope Francis publicly defended Barros, calling the accusations against him “calumny.” He apologized during a meeting with Chilean sex abuse victims for being “part of the problem” and for originally dismissing their concerns.

In May, all of the Chilean bishops presented their resignation to the Holy Father en masse. Thus far, seven of those resignations have been accepted by Francis.

In July of this year, the Chilean prosecutor’s office released a list of 266 persons who were victims of clerical sex abuse as minors, a number that the country’s bishops called “alarming.”

Prosecutor Sergio Moya could not confirm when Errázuriz was scheduled to appear before the court.

Juan Carlos Cruz, a victim of Karadima who met privately with Pope Francis in May, told Cooperativa that it was “very good news” for abuse survivors that Errázuriz was called before the courts. He added that he was “not surprised at all” that the cardinal had been accused of mishandling abuse cases.

Be close to your people, Francis tells Latin American priests

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 04:13 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis encouraged the community of the Pontifical Latin American College Thursday to avoid cultural fragmentation and to be close to their people.

“One of the phenomena currently afflicting the continent is cultural fragmentation, the polarization of the social fabric and the loss of roots,” the pope said Nov. 15 in the Clementine Hall of the Vatican's Apostolic Palace.

“This is exacerbated when arguments are fomented that divide and propagate different types of confrontations and hatred towards those who 'are not one of us', even importing cultural models that have little or nothing to do with our history and identity and that, far from combining in new syntheses as in the past, end up uprooting our cultures from their richest autochthonous traditions.

He spoke to the community to mark the 160th anniversary of the college's founding. He noted that it “is one of the few Roman Colleges whose identity does not refer to a nation or a charism, but which seeks rather to be the meeting place, in Rome, of our Latin American land … offering you, young priests, the opportunity to create a vision, a reflection and an experience of communion that is expressly 'Latin Americanized'.”

Francis lamented that new generations are “uprooted and fragmented”, and said that “the Church is not external to this situation and is exposed to this temptation; since she is subject to the same environment, she runs the risk of becoming disoriented by falling prey to one form of polarization or another, or becoming uprooted if one forgets that the vocation is a meeting ground.”

He added that “the invasion of ideological colonization is also suffered in the Church.”

Because of this, he said it is important at the college “to create bonds and alliances of friendship and fraternity. And not because of a declaration of principles or gestures of goodwill, but because during these years you can learn to know better and make your own the joys and hopes, sorrows and anguish of your brothers; you can name and face specific situations that our people live, and face and feel your neighbour’s problems as if they were your own.”

The Pontifical Latin American College should help create a good priestly community “if one knows how to help oneself, if one is able to lay down roots in the lives of others, brothers and sons with a common history and heritage, part of a same presbytery and the same Latin American people. A priestly community that discovers that the greatest strength it has to build history is born of the concrete solidarity among you today, and will continue tomorrow between your churches and peoples to be able to transcend the merely 'parochial' and to lead communities that know how to open up to others to interact and to promote hope.”

Latin America needs, he said, “artisans of relationship and communion, open and trusting in the novelty that the Kingdom of God can inspire today … A priest in his parish, in his diocese, can do a lot - and this is fine - but he also runs the risk of burning himself out, of isolating himself or harvesting for himself. Feeling part of a priestly community, in which everyone is important – not because it is the sum of people living together, but because of the relationships they create, this feeling part of the community – can awaken and encourage processes and dynamics capable of transcending time.”

“This sense of belonging and recognition will help to creatively unleash and stimulate renewed missionary energies that promote an evangelical humanism capable of becoming intelligence and a driving force in our continent,” Pope Francis said.

“Without this sense of belonging and work hand in hand, on the contrary, we will disperse, we will weaken and, worse still, we will deprive so many of our brothers of the strength, the light and the consolation of friendship with Jesus Christ and of a community of faith that gives a horizon of meaning and life. And so, little by little, and almost without realizing it, we will end up offering Latin America … a God without Christ, a Christ without a Church, a Church without a people ... pure re-elaborated Gnosticism.”

He said Latin America knows that “the love for Christ and of Christ can not manifest itself except in passion for life and for the destiny of our peoples, and especially solidarity with the poorest, the suffering and those in need.”

The pope said this “reminds us of the importance … of developing the pleasure of always being close to the life of our people; never isolating ourselves from them. The life of the diocesan presbyter is lived – the repetition is valid – in this identification and belonging. The mission is passion for Jesus, but at the same time, it is passion for His people. It is learning to look where He looks and to let ourselves be moved by the same things He is moved by: feelings for the life of His brothers, especially sinners and of all those who are despondent and fatigued, like sheep without a shepherd. Please, do not huddle in personal or community enclosures that keep us away from the hubs where history is written. Captivated by Jesus and members of His Body, we integrate fully into society, share life with everyone, listen to their concerns ... rejoice with those who are happy, mourn with those who mourn and offer every Eucharist for all those faces that were entrusted to us.”

Francis said the linking of the college's anniversary with the canonization of St. Oscar Romero, a sometime student, is providential, calling him a “living sign of the fruitfulness and sanctity of the Latin American Church. A man rooted in the Word of God and in the hearts of his people.”

“This reality allows us to make contact with that long chain of witnesses in which we are invited to place our roots and take inspiration from every day … Do not fear holiness, and do not fear spending your life for your people.”

“On the path of cultural and pastoral miscegenation we are not orphans; Our Mother accompanies us,” Pope Francis stated. “She wanted to be like that, mestizo and fertile, and that is how she is with us, our Mother of tenderness and strength who rescues us from the paralysis or confusion of fear, just because she is simply there, as our Mother.”

“Brother priests, let us not forget, and confidently ask her to show us the way, to free us from the perversion of clericalism, increasingly to make us 'village pastors' and not to let us become 'clerics of the state'.”

He concluded with a message for his brother Jesuits who help run the college, saying that “one of the distinctive notes of the Society’s charism is seeking to harmonize contradictions without falling prey to reductionism. This is why Saint Ignatius wanted to think of the Jesuits as men of contemplation and action, men of discernment and obedience, committed to daily life and free to leave.”

The Jesuits at the college should help the young priests “to harmonize the contradictions that life presents to them and present them without falling into reductionism, gaining in the spirit of discernment and freedom,” he said.

“Teach how to embrace problems and conflicts without fear; to handle dissent and confrontation. Teach how to reveal all kinds of 'correct' but reductionist discourse is a crucial task for those who accompany their brothers in formation. Help them to discover the art and taste of discernment as a way of proceeding to find, in the midst of difficulties, the ways of the Spirit by tasting and feeling the Deus semper maior within. Be teachers of broad horizons and, at the same time, teach how to take charge of the small, to embrace the poor and the sick, and to take on the reality of everyday life. Non coereceri a maximo, contineri tamen a minimo divinum est.”

Congressional bill aims for human rights for China’s Uyghurs

Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 04:11 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- Legislation could help advance religious freedom and human rights in China’s far western province of Xinjiang, say U.S. lawmakers concerned about the treatment of the region’s Uyghur minority.

“The United States must hold accountable officials in the Chinese government and Communist Party responsible for gross violations of human rights and possible crimes against humanity, including the internment in ‘political re-education’ camps of as many as a million Uyghur and other predominantly Muslim minorities,” U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) said.

The bill will signal “that we will not tolerate Chinese government intrusions on American soil,” said the senator.

The bill calls for the immediate closure of reported internment camps in Xinjiang. It asks the FBI to report on harassment and intimidation of ethnic Uyghurs. It calls for the State Department to report on the scale and scope of the reported crackdown.

It also advocates the full implementation of the Frank R. Wolf Religious Freedom Act, which ensures U.S. foreign policy commitments to international religious freedom. It calls for targeted sanctions to be considered against individual human rights abusers in Chinese government, the ruling Communist Party, and in state security.

Following a two-day review of China’s record in August, the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination has said that up to 1 million Uyghurs could be currently held against their will and without trial in extra-legal detention, on the pretext of countering terrorism and religious extremism.

Rubio and Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, introduced the Uyghur Human Rights Policy Act in the Senate on Nov. 14. U.S. Rep Chris Smith, (R-N.J.), introduced the House version of the bill with lead Democratic co-sponsor Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)

“The internment of over a million Uighurs and other Muslims in China is a staggering evil and should be treated by the international community as a crime against humanity,” said Smith. “The Chinese government’s creation of a vast system of what can only be called concentration camps cannot be tolerated in the 21st century.”

A high-tech security network has been set up in Xinjian, with many police checkpoints and surveillance cameras, the Washington Post reports.

On Nov. 6 China rejected a U.N. review that criticized its human rights record in Xinjian. It has repeatedly characterized the region as a place recovering from extremism, saying it is stabilizing the area with training centers that help train former extremists for employable skills.

Chinese officials have claimed that the criticism of its human rights record is “politically driven.” They have said Islamist militants and separatists are a serious threat in the far western Xinjiang province and charge that they plot attacks and create tension between the predominantly Muslim Uighur minority and the Han Chinese majority, Reuters has reported.

Several countries have asked China to allow independent U.N. observers into the region, without success.

Smith said the legislation gives the Trump administration “the tools to take a firm stand against Beijing’s plans to erase the religious identity, culture, and language of Uighurs and other ethnic minorities in China’s western province.”

He said that U.S. businesses should be barred from “helping China create a high-tech police state” in the province.

“The situation in Xinjiang and China’s treatment of its Uighur Minority is beyond abhorrent,” added Menendez. “The President needs to have a clear and consistent approach to China, and not turn a blind eye as a million Muslims are unjustly imprisoned and forced into labor camps by an autocratic regime.”

In addition to the U.S., several western countries have criticized the camps and called for them to be closed: the U.K., Canada, France and Germany.

On Oct. 10 the Congressional-Executive Commission on China emphasized what it called “the dire human rights situation inside China and the continued downward trajectory by virtually every measure,” since Xi Jinping came to power as general secretary of the Communist Party and now its president.

Rubio chairs the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, and Smith is its co-chair. The commission was created in 2000 to monitor human rights and rule of law developments in China.

Editor's Note: What's in our Newsroom?

Denver, Colo., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:34 pm (CNA).- I love CNA’s newsrooms.

In Denver, DC, and in Rome, our newsrooms are staffed with smart Catholics, telling interesting stories about the Church and the world. We have great conversations, vigorous debate, and occasionally we have candy taste-test tournaments.

For me, at least, it’s fun, inspiring, and informative to hang out in our newsrooms, with the journalists of Catholic News Agency.

We’ve launched a new podcast that aims to invite you into the conversation. Each episode of CNA Newsroom will give you a rundown of Catholic news, a conversation with one of CNA’s journalists going in-depth on a story or issue, and some commentary or analysis. Sometimes we’ll interview interesting or unusual people. Sometimes we’ll do narrative-style audio reporting. Sometime we’ll let our reporters Mary Rezac and Perry West argue over whether Parks and Rec is better than the Office. (It is.)

I’ll be your host, and usually I’ll be joined by one of CNA’s editors. Kate Veik is our executive producer, and she’s joined in production duties by Jonah McKeown. Our format might develop with time, because things in our newsroom often develop, and we want to bring you the best Catholic news podcast we can produce. We’ll look forward to your feedback and ideas.

Our first episode, which we released today, features reporting, interviews, and analysis from this week’s meeting of the U.S. bishops’ conference. You can find it on Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Stitcher, and on our website. I hope you’ll give it a listen, and let us know what you think.

Welcome to the CNA Newsroom.

Vatican, US bishops face class-action lawsuit from victims of clergy sex abuse

Washington D.C., Nov 15, 2018 / 02:44 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The U.S. bishops' conference and the Holy See face a class action lawsuit filed by six men who claim they were sexually abused by Catholic clergy during their childhoods. They are seeking financial damages as well as public contrition and reparation from the Church.

The 80-page suit filed Nov. 13 claims that the Vatican and the bishops knew about - and covered up for - the “endemic, systemic, rampant, and pervasive rape and sexual abuse” of the plaintiffs and others at the hands of active members of the clergy, religious orders, and other Church representatives.

The suit opens by invoking two passages of Scripture: “(B)ut people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed,” and: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather, expose them.”

Rather than protect the plaintiffs, the lawsuit says Church leaders protected and - “incredibly” - promoted the offenders.

These kinds of “wrongful actions, inaction, omissions, cover-up, deception, and concealment” create a “conspiracy of silence to their financial and reputational benefit and to Plaintiffs’ and Class Members’ personal, mental, psychological, and financial detriment.” These actions are “ongoing and continuous” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday at U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. by four attorneys representing six individuals who lived in six different states at the time the abuse occurred - Iowa, California, Mississippi, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Illinois. It does not specifically detail the cases of abuse reportedly suffered by the individuals.

The attorneys who filed the suit are Mitchell Toups, Richard Coffman, Joe Whatley Jr., and Henry Quillen, who have previous experience with similar lawsuits on behalf of victims of clerical sex abuse.

Coffman, one of two attorneys on the case from Beaumont, Texas, told the Beaumont Enterprise that he has been watching the unfolding of the recent sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church and felt the “time was right” to file this lawsuit.

“(S)omething needs to be done about this problem," he told the Enterprise.

"There's just a louder and louder outcry going on across the United States for the Catholic church to do something about this situation," Coffman added.

The lawsuit was filed during the autumn plenary assembly of the USCCB in Baltimore, during which the bishops voted down a proposal that would have “encouraged” the Vatican to “release soon” all documents related to the allegations of misconduct against former cardinal Theodore McCarrick, whose case has been at the center of the abuse scandals in the Church in the U.S. that have unfolded over the past five months.

At the beginning of the meeting, president of the conference Cardinal Daniel DiNardo also announced a Vatican order that the bishops not vote on any proposed solutions to the abuse crisis until a meeting in Rome in February with other bishops' conferences, a move that the lawsuit said was merely “kicking the can down the road again.”

Several U.S. bishops expressed their disappointment with the order, and the sex abuse crisis still featured as a prominent point of discussion at the meeting, though no action was taken.

The suit also claims that the bishops and the Vatican violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, aimed at organized crime, because the bishops engaged in federal mail fraud and wire fraud in the cover-up of abuse. The Catholic Church in the U.S. is an “unincorporated association” and therefore qualifies as an organization that can be held to RICO standards, it states.

The plaintiffs are seeking “compensatory damages, economic damages, punitive damages, RICO treble damages, medical monitoring, pre- and post-judgment interest, and attorneys’ fees, litigation expenses, and court costs.”

They also seek relief that would compel the Vatican and the bishops to “comply with various state statutes requiring them to report the abusive Clergy to law enforcement or other responsible authorities, terminate the abusive Clergy, identify the abusive Clergy to the general public so that parents may protect their children going forward, release documents evidencing such Clergy abuse to achieve transparency, and such other relief the Court deems just and proper.”

Spokespersons for the USCCB have told several media outlets that the conference will not comment on the lawsuit because it is pending litigation.

 

Celebrations begin for 500th anniversary of first Mass in Chile

Punta Arenas, Chile, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:56 am (ACI Prensa).- A Eucharistic procession through the Patagonian city of Punta Arenas launched the 500th anniversary commemorations of the first Mass celebrated in Chile.

Friar Pedro de Valderrama, the chaplain for the expedition of the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, offered Mass on Sunday, Nov. 11, 1520 in Fortescue Bay on the shores of the Strait of Magellan.

This Holy Mass at the extreme southern tip of Chile became the first Eucharist celebrated in the South American country.

On Nov. 11, the faithful from different communities gathered at the Human Rights Plaza in downtown Punta Arenas, the capital of the Magallanes Region, for a period of prayer before the Blessed Sacrament to help launch this major celebration, which will close on Nov. 11, 2020.

Bishop Bernardo Bastres of Punta Arenas, led the prayers and a Eucharistic procession to the Punta Arenas cathedral.

When participants arrived at the cathedral, the bishop said they were giving “public witness to the Real Presence of Christ in the Blessed Sacrament of the Eucharist.”

“Processing down the main street of our city, we gather in our common home, which welcomes us with love, warmth and hope,” he said.

The celebration of the Eucharist then followed. Bishop Bastres reflected on “the mystery of the Eucharist in its two dimensions, that of the celebration which makes Christ really present in the bread and wine, and at the same time the Eucharist invites us to break it, distribute it and share it with others.”

The second dimension, the bishop said, is that “if Christ gives himself to us as food for our lives, we must help everyone to have the necessary food to live in the dignity of a child of God.”

Credit: Diocese of Punta Arenas.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Pope Francis, Benedict XVI voice support for conference on 'new' human rights

Vatican City, Nov 15, 2018 / 10:31 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis and XVI have written letters lending their support to a Vatican-sponsored conference on the risks posed to fundamental human rights.

In a letter on a Nov. 15-16 international symposium in Rome, Benedict wrote that he believes it “extraordinarily useful” to make a close examination of the issue of the “multiplication of rights” and the risk this poses.

Pope Francis, in his own letter on the conference, pointed to Benedict XVI as having “lucidly warned of the urgency of these issues for our time,” and having “intervened authoritatively on them as a thinker and as a pastor.”

The symposium, which is on the theme of “fundamental rights and conflicts between rights,” is being organized by the Joseph Ratzinger-Benedict XVI foundation headed by Fr. Federico Lombardi. It is being held at LUMSA, a Catholic university in Rome.

Addressing Lombardi, the former director of the Holy See press office, Benedict wrote that the issue of increasing “rights” is a “current and fundamental question to protect the foundations of the coexistence of the human family,” and is a topic deserving of “an in-depth and systematic reflection.”

The pope emeritus concluded the brief letter with a promise of his esteem and prayers for the event’s speakers and participants, asking the Lord’s blessing on their work “as a precious service for the Church and for the good of the human family.”

In his own letter to Lombardi, Pope Francis pointed to the upcoming 70th anniversary of the United Nations’ adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, noting the appropriateness of having “an in-depth reflection on its implementation and on developing the vision of human rights in today’s world.”

The pope said about the symposium that the changing interpretation of certain rights and the appearance of “new rights,” especially in recent years, “opens up a series of problems that tend to involve, at bottom, the very idea of law and its foundations.”

He praised the pope emeritus’ interventions on the issue of human rights and noted that it was for that reason LUMSA bestowed on Benedict XVI an honorary degree in jurisprudence 20 years ago.

“I therefore hope,” Francis continued, “that the Symposium of high academic level that is about to be celebrated, drawing inspiration from the thought and the magisterium of our beloved Pope Emeritus, can contribute with courage and depth to illuminate an essential problem for the protection of the dignity of the human person and his integral development.”

Sudan Christians released after arrest, torture for converting from Islam

Al-Fashir, Sudan, Nov 15, 2018 / 09:45 am (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of 13 Christian converts in Darfur, Sudan was arrested and tortured last month for their faith, World Watch Monitor and several Christian aid groups have reported.

The Christians were reportedly taken from a home in southwest Darfur on October 13 and detained and beaten. Some were released shortly after their arrest, while the rest were released on October 21.

According to the Barnabas Fund, an aid group that supports persecuted Christians, those who were arrested had converted from Islam to Christianity, and were being punished for apostasy and pressured to convert back to Islam.

Sharia law remains the dominating system of law in Sudan. While 2005 amendments to the country’s constitution removed some references to Sharia, Sudan President Omar al-Bashir in 2011 vowed a stricter adherence to Sharia law.

Tajadin Idris Yousef, the pastor of the group, who was also arrested, was then made to appear before a court on October 28 for refusing to recant his faith while in police custody.

According to World Watch Monitor, he faces apostasy charges and must report to local authorities every three days. Nine of the men arrested recanted their Christian faith. They were forced to pay fines, and were ultimately charged with “disturbing the peace.”

Sudan ranks fourth on Open Doors’ 2018 World Watch List of most difficult places for Christians to live, after North Korea, Afghanistan, and Somalia.

Virginia Catholics praise dismissal of assisted suicide by state legislature

Arlington, Va., Nov 15, 2018 / 03:49 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Virginia Catholics are praising the decision of a joint commission of the state legislature to take no action on a study on assisted suicide.

Last year, Del. Kaye Kory (D-Fairfax) asked the Virginia state legislature to consider legalizing so-called “medical aid-in-dying” or physician-assisted suicide.

After receiving public comment, the Joint Commission on Health Care, which was tasked with studying the issue, voted 10-6 on November 7 to take no action on the issue.

“I was very pleased to receive the news that the Virginia Joint Commission on Health Care rejected efforts that might ultimately have led to the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in our commonwealth,” Bishop Michael Burbidge of Arlington told the Arlington Catholic Herald.  

“The commission received nearly 3,000 public comments against legalizing assisted suicide, and comments against assisted suicide outnumbered comments for assisted suicide 8-1! I thank the leadership of the Virginia Catholic Conference, the Arlington Diocese’s Office for Marriage, Family and Respect Life and so many citizens, especially among our Catholic faithful, for standing up for life!” he added.

In a statement posted to the Virginia Catholic Conference website, director of the conference Jeff Caruso said that voters’ voices had been “heard loud and clear” on the issue.

“In prayer and in public, your voices are urgently needed to bring Gospel values to bear on vital decisions being made by those who represent you,” he said.

Of the 3,000 comments against assisted suicide received by the commission, about 2,000 of them them were submitted through the Catholic Conference, Caruso told the Arlington Catholic Herald.

“The gift of life is something that should never be abandoned or discarded and that's the principal that was upheld by the joint commission,” he said.

Caruso said it was “very significant” that the commission declined to take action on assisted suicide, because it is something that could be helpful in the continued fight against legalizing it in the future.

The vote included all of the commission’s Republicans, as well as one vote from a Democrat on the commission. One of the commissioners who voted against assisted suicide was a surgeon, another was a physician.

Del. Scott Garrett (R-Lynchburg), who has experience as a surgeon, told the Virginia Mercury that he voted to take no action because he had witnessed people who had long-outlived their prognosis.

“The resiliency of the human condition is truly an amazing thing,” he said. “Each one of us has certainly, many, many times in our professional careers been faced with somebody who had no chance, they’re going to die in three months, and yet in fact it just wasn’t their time yet.”

The commission did pass several measures to improve health care in the state’s jails and prisons, including actions aimed at improving mental health and substance abuse.

Kory told the Virginia Mercury that she would not propose any assisted suicide legislation this year.

The seven states of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington, plus the District of Columbia, have legalized assisted suicide.